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ATVs Are Dangerous to Children: Injuries Have Increased, Estimated ATV Deaths Up-- but Data is Incomplete


Washington, D.C. – According to data released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), estimated child deaths and serious injuries caused by all-terrain vehicles (ATV) increased slightly in 2015. Tragically, at least 58 children lost their lives, though this data collection is not considered complete, and 26,700 were injured seriously enough to require treatment in a hospital emergency department. 

"Thousands of families every year suffer as a result of ATV deaths and serious injuries. ATVs are one of the most dangerous products CPSC regulates, causing more deaths and injuries than almost any other product under CPSC's jurisdiction," stated Rachel Weintraub, Legislative Director and General Counsel for the Consumer Federation of America. "Data indicates that injuries and deaths from ATVs have increased and much more must be done to prevent these serious and sometimes life altering incidents."

"As a pediatrician, my number one job is to keep children safe and healthy. ATVs are not safe for children and should not be used by any child under the age of 16," said Fernando Stein, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  "Children are not developmentally capable of operating these heavy, complex machines.  The American Academy of Pediatrics advises all parents to protect their children by preventing them from driving or riding in an ATV."

The CPSC released its 2015 Annual Report of ATV-Related Deaths and Injuries on January 23, 2017. Major findings include:

Estimates of serious injuries requiring emergency room treatment among people of all ages increased from 93,700 in 2014 to 97,200 in 2015. 

The 2015 emergency department-treated injury estimate for all ages reflects an increase of 4 percent from the 2014 estimate, which is not statistically significant.

Between 2007 and 2015, there is an overall decrease of thirty-six percent of estimated numbers of emergency department-treated injuries for children younger than 16. This is statistically significant.

The estimated number of 4-wheel ATV-related fatalities for all ages increased from 657 in 2013 to 674 in 2014. The agency notes, however, that the 2013, 2014, and 2015 data are not considered complete and will likely increase.

In 2015, ATVs killed at least 58 children younger than 16, accounting for 17 percent of ATV fatalities. Fifty-five percent of children killed were younger than 12 years old in 2015. 2015 ATV fatality data is considered incomplete.

Children under age 16 suffered an estimated 26,700 serious injuries in 2015, an increase from 24,800 in 2014, which represented 28 percent of all injuries.

Children under age 12 suffered an estimated 13,400 serious injuries in 2015, an increase from 11,400 in 2014.

The 2015 emergency department-treated injury estimate for children younger than 16 years of age represents an 8 percent increase over the 2014 estimate, although this is not a statistically significant increase.

It is important to note that there is always a lag between the occurrence of ATV related deaths and the reports of those deaths making their way to the CPSC and therefore the 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 statistics should not be considered complete. 

CFA tracks off-highway vehicle (OHV) deaths, including recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs), and identified 616 in 2015. Of the 616 fatalities documented, it was possible to determine the vehicle type in 606, or 99% of those fatalities. Of those 606 fatalities, 85 or 14%, took place on an ROV—a significant amount of the total. CFA would like the CPSC to begin tracking all OHV deaths and injuries in one report. 

In 2002, consumer groups filed a petition with the CPSC calling for the CPSC to ban the sale of adult-size ATVs for use by children. While the agency under the leadership of Chairman Hal Stratton denied the petition, the CPSC began a rulemaking process to create new ATV safety standards. On August 12, 2011, Congress passed H.R. 2715 which amended the CPSIA and which directed the CPSC to complete the ATV rulemaking within a year of enactment. The rule has not yet been completed.

In March 2014, CFA released a report, "ATVs on Roadways: A Safety Crisis" documenting the growing trend of states permitting ATV use on roads, a practice that contradicts recommendations from the CPSC, public health, consumer and ATV industry groups. CFA updated this report in 2015 and found that ROVs are permitted wherever ATVs are permitted. "CPSC's data in the Annual Report of ATV-Related Deaths and Injuries is a critical source of information for those working to decrease ATV deaths and injuries," stated Weintraub. "We urge CPSC to include information about ATV deaths and injuries taking place on and off road."

Both Consumer Federation of America and the AAP continue to call upon the agency to reject the manufacture of a transitional, "youth model" ATV for 14- to 16-year-olds that is capable of traveling at speeds up to 38 miles per hour.

The CPSC, industry, and many consumer advocates recommend that children ages 12 through 15 not ride ATVs with engines larger than 90 cc's. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no child under age 16 ride an ATV of any size.


The Consumer Federation of America is an association of more than 250 non-profit consumer groups that, since 1968, has sought to advance the consumer interest through research, education, and advocacy.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.